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CSBG Archive

2011 Top Marvel Characters #20-18

After nearly 1,400 ballots were cast, YOU the reader ranked your favorite comic book characters from 1-10. I assigned point totals to each ranking and then tabulated it all into a Top 50 list. We’re now revealing that list throughout September. Here is the master list of all the characters revealed so far. The countdown continues…

20. Jean Grey – 968 (38 first place votes)

Jean Grey (created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) was one of the founding members of th X-Men.

She stayed with the team for many years, using her telepathy and telekinesis as a hero. When the team was revamped a few years later, Jean took some time off, but continued seeing her teammate, Cyclops.

However, soon after the new team formed, Jean (and the rest of the X-Men) were kidnapped. After a battle, the group found themselves in a damaged spacecraft headed for Earth. Someone had to pilot the ship – but whoever did would certainly perish. Jean insisted that she be the one (much to Cyclops’ dismay). As she sat there, slowly dying – a cosmic force called the Phoenix came to Jean, and offered to save her life (and the lives of the X-Men) if Jean allowed her to be Jean, and experience life as a human.

Jean agreed, and when the ship landed, the Phoenix took over Jean’s life, albeit at a much more higher power level. Eventually, though, the Phoenix could not handle life as a human, and went nuts – killing a whole PLANET. However, even though it only COPIED Jean’s thoughts – Jean was such a great hero that even a copy of her was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, and the Phoenix killed itself.

Awhile later, the Avengers found Jean in a cocoon near where the ship had crashed, years earlier. She was alive, and the other members of the original X-Men came to her, and the five of them formed a new team, X-Factor.

When that team broke up, she joined the rest in becoming X-Men again. Along the way, she married her long-time love, Cyclops.

Also, we learned that while the Phoenix WAS a separate force, Jean was actually born able to CHANNEL the Phoenix force, which is why the force approached her to begin with, rather than some other random human.

So Jean began to exhibit her Phoenix powers again.

Eventually, Cyclops began to have an affair with Emma Frost. Soon after, Jean was killed by Magneto in battle.

Now absorbed into the White Hot Room (which is where Phoenix-bearers go), Jean’s last wish was to convince her husband to pursue a relationship with Emma now that Jean was dead. He did so.

So Jean is currently dead, but come on, her NAME is the PHOENIX, so you know she’ll eventually be back!

19. Kitty Pryde – 970 (18 first place votes)

Kitty Pryde was created by John Byrne and Chris Claremont, and she first appeared right at the beginning of the Dark Phoenix Saga. She was a new student at the X-Men, and since she was much younger than the rest, she worked as a POV character for the readers.

Kitty was a nice, bright Jewish girl from Chicago who had the ability to phase through objects. She was quite down-to-Earth, and soon became a fan favorite.

Kitty began a relationship with her teammate, Colossus, which ended it heartbreak for Kitty. After serving with the X-Men for a number of years (and bonding with almost all her teammates, most notably with basically her surrogate mother, Storm, and her surrogate father, Wolverine – who trained her in the ways of the samurai), even finally getting a cool name – Shadowcat – Kitty was injured during a battle, and was separated from the rest of the X-Men.

During this time, the X-Men were believed dead – leaving Kitty to start a new group in England, along with her fellow wounded X-Man, Nightcrawler. The two helped found Excalibur, where Kitty stayed as a member for the next number of years (in fact, correct me if I’m off here, but I believe Kitty actually was a member of Excalibur longer than she was originally with the X-Men. Is that right? It’s like, 1980-88 for X-Men, and 88-98 for Excalibur, right?), even forming her next major romantic relationship with Peter Wisdom, a gritty English operative.

Story continues below

The two split, and so did Excalibur, leading Kitty back to the X-Men. After the apparent death of Colossus, Kitty took some time off, but was brought back to the X-men by Cyclops, and she was reunited with the not-so-dead-after-all Colossus. However, their reunion was brief before Kitty sacrificed herself to stop a magic bullet from destroying the Earth. Kitty phased with the bullet to make it pass through the Earth. The problem was that Kitty was pretty much stuck on said bullet. Eventually, Magneto brought her back to Earth, but she had remained phased for so long that she could not return to her flesh form!!! Through a rather bloody encounter with the same aliens who got her stuck in the bullet in the first place, Kitty returned to normal! She apparently will be one of the X-Men who will go with Wolverine when the X-teams split next month.

18. The Punisher (Frank Castle) – 995 (17 first place votes)

Created by Gerry Conway and artists John Romita and Ross Andru, Frank Castle was a police officer with a lovely wife and great kids who saw his life torn about one sunny day, when, at the park, his family was caught in a mob gun battle, leaving Castle a widower with no children.

He basically snapped, and thereby began a one-man war on crime as the Punisher.

Unlike other heroes, Castle killed – and he killed a LOT.

And that’s basically what he’s been doing ever since, and yet we have had a number of remarkable comic book series based on such a seemingly straightforward characters. Garth Ennis wrote years worth of brilliant Punisher comic books, a tradition that Jason Aaron has picked up full force with Punisher MAX. Similarly, Greg Rucka is in the midst of a compelling Punisher series that frames the Punisher as a sort of almost force of nature (with the police characters in the book being forced to react to the results of the Punisher’s war on crime).

Check back tomorrow for DC’s #17-15!!


Ronald Jay Kearschner

September 15, 2011 at 4:52 am

I wish I had something brilliant to say, but I’m only posting to get the email update.

Kitty used to be great. It has been a while.

Jean Grey and Punisher are both pretty boring.

Not the best set in the run… :)

The Crazed Spruce

September 15, 2011 at 5:52 am

I like Jean Grey and all, but she finished just outside of my Top 25 list. Same goes for The Punisher.

Kitty Pride (my second-favourite X-Man) was part of my five-way tie for 21st.

Okay, with 17 characters left to go, and 9 characters left in my Top 10 (and 18 left on my Top 25), I get the feeling that a few of my picks didn’t make the cut. Especially since such big names as The Hulk, Wolverine, Magneto, and Tony Stark didn’t make my list. (I’m still holding out hope that J. Jonah Jameson, The Warriors Three, and Damage Conrol squeeze into the Top 15, though….)

Hahaha this post reads more like my Bottom Marvel Characters.

Really? Not liking Punisher and Jean Grey, that I can understand. But Kitty?

been wondering when the punisher would show up in the rankings. plus jean i thought would crack the top ten

Damn, how long has Jen been out of the X-men? Cracking the top 20’s a good trick to pull off.

Jean outplacing Rogue and Storm? Well, good job, Jean fanatics! Those 38 freakin’ first place votes had to go somewhere! I didn’t really start to like Jean until Morrison’s run, where she’s totally awesome. Compassionate, but frighteningly powerful, Jean Grey is a multi-faceted character that, in the Marvel manner, has a great power that might be too much even for her great sense of responsibility. She’s the nicest woman you ever met, but don’t cross her trust, because she’ll go Phoenix on your ass in a quick minute. Personally though, I’m hoping they don’t bring her back, and every year they don’t makes me respect the X-office just a little bit more.

Kitty Pryde was surely on my list. A lot of people accuse Kitty of Mary Sue-ism, but to those people I say, “Stop using that fucking term, you look like a moron”. Regardless, Kitty started out NOT being perfect, but more of a reader indentification character. She was the little girl in the grown-up X-men world, but she really wanted to be part of the team, and tried her damnest to prove her worth, even if she could’t come up with a good costume/name to save her life! Sprite? Shadowcat? Ariel? Whatever, Kitty. She grew over the series, establishing the Wolverine-young girl mentor relationship that still goes on to this day, going from hating Nightcrawler to being one of his best friends in Excalibur, and got the best purple comic book dragon ever for a pal in Lockheed. Over time, she got TOO perfect, that I would agree with. She’s so pretty, and computer talented, and also a ninja, and no one gets on her for her drama queen antics. Who seriously hates Kitty Pryde? You can’t, and now that she grew up, the only storytelling options are A) bring her back down to the Claremont level(like Whedon did) or B) ship her out of the picture(something Claremont did back in the day, annnnd also Whedon again!). She has the same problem Colossus has, that Claremont wrote a complete story arc for them back in the day, and now they’re just hanging around because of their popularity over the years. Oh well, I’m still a fan, I wanna see her actually do something interesting come Wolverine and the X-men.

Frank Castle is a completely one dimensional caricature, and I mean that in the best way. He has no real supporting cast, no Marvel-style “I have powers and therefore personal problems”, no love interest, no recurring iconic rogues, no character development, no real hobbies or other human things to make him more “relatable”. He’s a one-trick pony in a stable of talented breeds, the eternal straight man to the Marvel Universe’s wackiness. He works best when he’s knee deep in crazy, interesting antagonists and looking po-faced even when he has to use Spider-Man’s body as a meatshield. Remender did the best 616 Punisher in years, not only connecting the audience with one of Frank’s few human aspects(his family and their deaths), not only does he give Frank a partner in Henry to get some actual human character dynamics and character development over the course of the run, but he’s not afraid to put Frank in totally ridiculous situations, knowing you can’t really break this character. Frankencastle is awesome, and its a damn shame it got cut short in a year’s time. Now we’re back to INCREDIBLY boring Greg Rucka Punisher series, with super fucking boring cops, lackluster action, and maybe the least interesting Frank Castle ever. This is what the fans wanted instead of the fun book, huh? Well fuck you, I’ll stick with Jason Aaron’s PunisherMAX, thank you very much.

YAY Jeanie! and Kitty!

Think that’s the end of the ladies then! oh well.
I may yet be surprised – you never know – Squirrel Girl is quite sneaky ;)

Jean’s my #1. Mainly on the strength of the Morrison run. Glad she’s still well-loved enough to be in the top 20 like years since her last death.

Kitty was my number 1. Pretty much the ultimate POV character. To me she seems to transcend the potentially off-putting nature of her multitude of “perfect” qualities (innocence, genius intellect, earnestness, constant exceeding of expectations, disproportionately high number of opportunities for the wit, badassery or saving the rest of the team) by embodying them to the point of being the absolute standard for that type of character. There can be only one; she should be a word in the dictionary. Plus, any kid who’s read comics has probably wanted to be able to hang with the managerie of freaks depicted on the page, or then also wanted a nice normal girl to hang out with you and your friends, even though you’re a menagerie of freaks. Pretty much the most basic, innate wish fulfillment superhero comics can embody, more so than even being a hero or flying away, and Kitty does it best.

Tim Drake doesn’t work so well for me because there’s already a Kitty Pryde (but Stephanie Brown, my DC number 1, does by being a foil for his every defining trait, essentially becoming the anti-Kitty. But that’s another rant.)

I thought the increased turnout this year might see Kitty move up in the rankings, but then again I guess last time Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men was fresh on people’s minds. I’m pretty sure I’ve figured everyone who’s going to be in the top 20 except one, who I thought would be revealed today… so there’s going to be a surprise, and higher than I expected! Cool, these lists are a lot of fun.

Man, the Punisher is my first Marvel pick to show up. Some of my picks I’m pretty sure are going to be more popular than I thought, but some surprising ones I’m betting aren’t going to show at all at this point. Didn’t Taskmaster make the list last time? I would have thought he’d be more popular now, since he’s a bit higher profile, but there’s no way he’s showing up at this point.

blargh…Jean Grey…can’t escape her or mention of her no matter how hard I try. Glad to see Kitty one up her there even with less than half as many 1st place votes.

I wonder when the Punisher will join the X-Men. His mutant ability seems to be killing thousands of criminals and somehow still have thousands more to contend with.

To this day, I find it hard to believe how annoying I found early Kitty Pryde. What’s worst, I believed Byrne intentionally drew her in the most annoying possible way

It’s so sad that the Punisher actually ranked ahead of Kitty.

Storm should be in the top Three ot top five.

love that Jean is still making fan’s list :)

JeanhatersSTFU, Excelsior!

While Kitty was the annoying added child to the new Uncanny X-Men, she proved herself during the Brood saga… returning and calling Prof. X a Jerk, gaining a pet dragon, becoming a samurai, revealing her genius with computers, and giving a blunt speech against racism. By issues 169, she stopped being a kid, and in issue 196, she showed her potential as the strong woman she was becoming. As a 16yr.old, I thought her a favorite character. Of course that was over 20 YEARS AGO!!! Says a lot about who the comic book industry’s target audience is… or at least the audience of CBR readers who submit to surveys.

We’ll eventually find out that it’s not actually Jean that made this list, but the alternate-future clone of the wish-manifestation of the Phoenix Force’s shadow self’s granddaughter from Ultimate Heroes Reborn Counter-Earth.

Kitty Pryde is the Raven Symone of comics.

I like The Punisher as long as he’s either written as a villain or written by Garth Ennis.

I don’t much care for the other two.

Well, this either means we aren’t seeing Emma on a top 50 that had X-23 and Psylocke in it, or that she placed ahead of Kitty, Jean and Ororo. Both of these scenarios would be pretty shocking; I bet we’ll see her in the next batch, but it’ll be interesting to see whether she beats out Kurt.

Jean was excellent in Morrison’s run, and while she was usually a bit dry when written by Claremont, she was also the centerpiece of one of the greatest superhero stories in history, so she’s earned her place, even if I like Hank and Ororo a lot more. There was some fansite commenting on something about how they were going to bomb this poll with first-place votes, which explains the numbers.

Kitty is an obvious choice. Great character, would have made my top 10 if I’d voted in 2007.

Punisher, I mean, like, yeah. The fricking Punisher. ‘Nuff said.

The Phoenix didn’t copy Jean. It created a new body and asked Jean to take its hand so the two may become one. Jean and the forced merged creating a new being. Most of Jean’s mind and consciousness was transferred to the new Phoenix body except a spark that was left in the original body that was put in the cocoon just in case things went wrong and she needed it.

This is explained in the Classic X-Men #8 backstory that has recently been added to the Dark Phoenix and Phoenix Rising HC trades.

After Dark Phoenix died on the moon, the part of the real Jean that was with Phoenix/Dark Phoenix visited Death in the Afterlife (shown in Classic X-Men #43 backstory). Jean appeared as the White Phoenix. Death tells Jean that she and the Phoenix force are not mutually exclusive beings. Her spirit was carved from it and thus she is its human avatar. Her mind and imagination gave it form and consciousness. He tells her that it belongs to her and her children.

This part of the real Jean rejoined the Jean that came out of the cocoon in Inferno.

You are right that she was born to be a Phoenix though. Classic X-Men #42 shows 12 year old Jean with the Phoenix in her mind. Morrison established that Jean is a Phoenix by mutation as it is in her genes and blood. She is telepathically connected to the Phoenix Consciousness.

In End of Greys, Claremont also established that Jean and Rachel are connected to the Phoenix by genetic mutation.

Morrison and Pak were recognizing the Classic #43 backstory when they used Jean as the White Phoenix.

No wonder Jean’s stayed dead. that’s MAD convoluted.

Any fan of Jean’s who doesn’t want to see her return at some point is crazy! Death and rebirth are part of what makes her great. I think post schism would be the ideal time for her to make a comeback as the world has changed so much. Plus who’s side would she come down on?

Remender’s Punisher is also the only Punisher I’ve read in a long time. The MAX stuff isn’t really my cup of tea as much as I usually like Ennis.

nice to see Jean still up there despite being absent, she’s made an impact

OmniAural, how special is rising from the ashes like a Phoenix when even c-list villains come back from the dead constantly?

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